Activity time: 23 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Newsprint, markers and tape
- Postcards or paper and envelopes; pencils, pens or other writing/drawing implements; and correct postage stamps for mailing individual cards or letters
- Optional: Large envelopes/boxes to collect pieces for mailing or delivery
- Optional: A copy of Leader Resource 2, Action Campaign Ideas
- Optional: Fact sheets, legislators' voting records and other relevant information about issue(s) you will propose or the group has already chosen
Preparation for Activity
- As needed, consult with your director of religious education and other Faithful Journeys co-leaders to determine whether the group has formed a Faithful Journeys Action Club (see Session 4) and begun work on a justice campaign. If the group has a Faithful Journeys Action Club, confer with your director of religious education, minister, and/or social action committee to ensure you link this activity with a project already selected by the children or another appropriate congregational project.
- If the group has not formed an Action Club and/or will need to select a campaign issue, incorporate Alternate Activity 1, Selecting a Cause for Get Involved Action Campaign, into this activity. Or, use Alternate Activity 2 to lead children in a Valentines for Marriage Equality campaign in your municipality or state.
- If possible, recruit extra adult helpers for this activity. Consider inviting people who are concerned about your campaign issue, or members of the social action committee.
- Determine target audiences (legislators, local officials, etc.) for all potential issues and obtain contact names and addresses.
- Make a plan for a co-leader to deliver/mail the postcards, letters, or other messages children create. Be sure, too, to schedule a specific time, some weeks hence, to report any responses to the campaign. If you have received no response, be ready to help the children reflect on the experience and plan next steps.
Description of Activity
This activity will help children discover and implement ways they can use the democratic process to lobby government officials for a change their conscience tells them is needed. Say, in your own words:
Unitarian Universalists believe in the democratic process. For the democratic process to work, people have to get involved.
Ask the children for ideas of how to get involved in a democracy. Affirm voting for a president, a mayor, or another official; campaigning for the election of a leader you believe will make good decisions; or working to make changes in our laws or make new laws.
When you are older, you will be able to vote for leaders who, in turn, can work for change by improving our laws. But people of any age can get involved in a democracy by telling our leaders and decision-makers what we want and what we think.
Ask the children for examples of leaders and decision-makers - people who have power to change or make laws. Affirm the U.S. president; your state's governor; a mayor, selectman/woman or city council member; a senator or representative. Affirm that your congregation uses democratic process and has leaders (e.g., minister, director of religious education, music director, board president and lay leaders).
NOTE: In a child's experience, school and family also have "laws" and leaders (principals, teachers, parents) who make them. Be ready to clarify that there are situations where adults have power and responsibility to make decisions for children. However, because we live in a democracy, most schools, communities and families have rules that promote both safety and fairness. These groups provide, or could provide, ways for children to contribute their ideas about good, safe and fair rules. You might say:
As Unitarian Universalists, we believe children have both a right and responsibility to contribute their ideas about matters that concern them, especially when their conscience tells them something isn't right or fair.
Tell the group about the action campaign you have chosen. Brainstorm to generate a list of leaders who have power to make change; record ideas on newsprint. Then, brainstorm actions the group can take to communicate to those leaders about the issue. Discuss messages or pictures they might want to send. For example, to promote protection of polar bears from global warming, the group could send postcards with artwork about polar bears, telling state and federal legislators why an icy environment is necessary for polar bears to survive. Write key words or phrases on newsprint for children to copy.
Gather participants at work tables and invite them to create messages that express their thoughts and feelings about the campaign issue. Actively circulate to help children organize materials and articulate their ideas.
Collect finished products and prepare for mailing or delivery.
Including All Participants
Children this age show a wide range in writing ability. Give children the option of dictating their thoughts for an adult or another child to write.